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Object FX

Magix Samplitude Tips & Techniques By Martin Burrow
Published June 2012

We explain how to get the best from Samplitude's unique object-based effects.

One of the things that sets Samplitude apart from other software is the way it lets you use effects not only at the track level but also at the object level. As well as adding effects in the conventional way, from the Track Editor or the Mixer, you can also add effects to individual audio clips using the Samplitude Object Editor. (In Samplitude-speak, any piece of audio that exists on the timeline is called an audio object.) In essence, every audio object has what you might describe as its own dedicated channel strip.

Every audio object has its own Object Editor. You can have one Object Editor for one complete length of audio, or you can chop that longer piece of audio into shorter objects and add effects to those individual objects. You can then enjoy real-time effects processing using discrete Object Editors, with no rendering required.

Open Objects

To open the Object Editor for an audio object, double-click it or select it and press Ctrl-O. In the new Samplitude Pro X, the Object Editor is docked by default: if you prefer it undocked, left-click and drag the Object Editor tab up from the docker or double-click on its tab. To return it to the docker, double-click on the header or drag it back down to the docker.

The default Object Editor view includes, from left to right, a gain control, four auxiliary sends, five plug-in slots, an EQ section, pan/stereo controls and a volume fader. There is also a section for managing object automation. Objects can also be frozen; freezing an object will render all Object Editor effects to a new audio file, and replace the existing audio object with the rendered version. This can be undone at any time.

Right-clicking in a free space below the stereo control opens a contextual menu which lets you switch skins. The alternative Object Editor Max skin gives you access to extra parameters including fade-in/fade-out, object and wave nudging, plus pitch-shift and time-stretching.By choosing a 'max' skin, you can view the extended Object Editor parameter set.By choosing a 'max' skin, you can view the extended Object Editor parameter set. Alternatively, you can access these parameters in the default skin by clicking on the three large buttons down the left-hand side of the editor.

The beauty of the Object Editor is that you can target a specific segment of audio and add multiple effects to just that segment. For example, maybe you want to add some delay to the end of a vocal phrase, or perhaps a dub-style repeat to a single snare-drum hit. In other applications, you would need to use track-based automation to do this, but with the Object Editor you can zero in at the object level and tweak to your heart's content. All objects are self-contained and can be imported and exported between projects, complete with effect settings.

Tails You Win

One thing worth considering when using object-based effects is what will happen to any decay or tail they create when playback has passed beyond the end of the object. This behaviour will depend on several factors. Let's consider a vocal take where we want to apply a stereo delay to a single phrase or word.

First, we need to isolate the phrase or word by splitting the vocal take at the in and out points. Make sure auto crossfade mode is activated (it usually is by default). If you're using Object Mouse Mode, make sure the audio object is selected, place the play cursor at the beginning of the chosen word and press 'T' to split the object. Then place the play cursor at the end of the word and press 'T' to split again. Alternatively, if you're using Universal Mouse Mode or Range Mode, you can simply draw a range over the word and press 'T' to split the object at the range borders; another option would be to use Cut Mouse Mode.When an object's effects are set pre-fade, you can control any delay or reverb tails by adjusting that object's crossfade boundaries.When an object's effects are set pre-fade, you can control any delay or reverb tails by adjusting that object's crossfade boundaries. In all cases, a tip worth knowing is that you can temporarily disable snapping by holding down the Alt key as you make the edit.

Now double-click on the newly isolated object, or press Ctrl-O, to open the Object Editor. Left-click on an insert slot (where the arrow is), and from the plug-in list, navigate to the Delay/Reverb category and the eFX Stereo Delay plug-in. Select the preset 'Delay Analog Old Tape' from the Programs list at the top.

Pre-fade Or Post-Fade?

Place the play cursor just before the active object and press the space bar to start playback. When playback reaches the object start, the effect will kick in, but as soon as the play cursor reaches the end of the object, the delay will stop — there will be no audible 'tail'.

Because the plug-in is set to pre-fade, any slight crossfade will affect the tail of the delay. This can be used creatively. Select the adjacent object to the right, and you should see a square 'object fade handle' positioned a quarter of the way down from the top left-hand edge of that object. Grab this fade handle and pull it about one bar to the right. Play the part again, and this time you will notice that the delay tail continues playing for the duration of the fade. Try adjusting the fade by different amounts and note how it affects the delay. Now pull the fade handle completely to the left so there is no crossfade, and start playback. This time the effect tail will continue beyond the end of the object. In other words, when plug-ins are set to pre-fade, effect tails can be controlled by adjusting the fade, while if no fade is present, tails will not be affected.Edits are carried out in various ways depending which mouse tool is selected.Edits are carried out in various ways depending which mouse tool is selected.

You can override this behaviour completely by setting the plug-in to post-fade. Right-click on the small rectangular button above the top insert slot to open the plug-in configuration window. (You can also add further plug-ins from within this window if you exceed the five slots the Object Editor provides.) Select the stereo delay and click the downward arrow to move it to the post-fade position.Pitch-shifting in the Object Editor provides a neat way to create a vocal harmony part.Pitch-shifting in the Object Editor provides a neat way to create a vocal harmony part. Then click OK to close the window. Now when you play the object, you will notice that even when a fade is present, it is ignored and the delay tail continues playing.

Sweet Harmony

Now let's look at a slightly more sophisticated example, showing how we can apply object-based processing to multiple objects at once, to create a vocal harmony. Copy the vocal phrase to an empty track, and split it at the beginning of the phrase. You should now have two objects, consisting of the main phrase plus the effected word at the end. Ctrl-click to select these objects and Ctrl-G to group them. Also make sure Apply to All is ticked in the Object Editor. When Apply to All is active, any changes you make will be rolled out across all selected objects. Right-clicking will let you choose which elements of the Object Editor are applied multiply.

Now grab the objects while using the keyboard modifier Ctrl-Shift, and drag them downwards to an empty track (Ctrl ensures that the objects are copied rather than moved, and Shift constrains horizontal movement). Go to the Object Editor's Time/Pitch section, and choose 'Monophonic Voice' from the Mode drop-down list. Then, to lower the pitch by three semitones, place the mouse over the knob to the right of where it says 'Pitch Factor' and roll the mouse wheel towards you to adjust in increments of one semitone. You now have a harmony part to go with the original vocal. If certain words of the phrase don't work in the context of that harmony, just draw a range over the words in question, press 'T' to split, and adjust the pitch to taste.

Gracious Savings

Right-clicking on the 'Apply to All' tick box allows you to set which parameters will be applied across all selected objects.Right-clicking on the 'Apply to All' tick box allows you to set which parameters will be applied across all selected objects.

In Pro X, plug-ins, EQ and aux settings can be copied between objects using the four snapshot buttons located at the top right-hand corner of the Object Editor. Left-click on an empty slot to save the selected object's configuration, then select the destination object and left-click to apply the same configuration there. An occupied slot changes colour, and the 'active' snapshot will have a red dot at the top left corner. Snapshots can also be used for A/B comparisons, and right-clicking lets you load, save and delete them.

You can also save your object effect settings by left-clicking on the small downward arrow below the plug-in slots next to 'FX' and choosing 'Save Object Settings…' To recall a saved object setting, select an object and choose 'Load Object Settings…' from the same menu. If Apply to All is active, loading an object setting will apply this setting to all other selected objects. To remove all object effects, choose Reset from the same menu.

Finally, it's also possible to save and load objects complete with effect settings from the File menu.   

Watch & Learn

To watch Martin's video tutorial on object effects, visit /sos/jun12/articles/samplitudemedia.htm